Belfast Telegraph

Celebrating suicide only shows ugly face of fashion

By Gail Walker

Why is fashion such an ugly, ugly business?

We've been here before. Size zero models, heroin chic, tales of the sexual exploitation of young models, John Galliano's anti-Semetic rants (seemingly forgiven already by the fashion industry), tax avoidance.

It would appear nothing is too low for these people. But then again ethics and morals are rather passe, a holding back of free expression dah-ling. How can you push the envelope when, like, thinking about it beforehand and seeing that it's probably, like, "wrong" and "stupid" is, like, so bad creatively?

Still, the industry has outdone itself with fashion magazine Vice and its suicide spread. "Last words" featured models recreating the suicides of famous female authors. (Apart from Dorothy Parker, who died of a heart attack but had tried to take her own life several times over the years). Apart from their names and dates, the authors don't actually get much of a look in. Nary a mention of a single book, poem or thought even.

But the clothes? Oh, they get plenty of coverage. Perhaps the nadir in this gallery of heartless vulgarity is in its treatment of the Taiwanese author Sanmao who hanged herself with a pair of stockings. Naturally, the magazine included a credit for the tights (The Look, London).

Who cares? Who's ever heard of Vice? And anyway wasn't it withdrawn online?

Except, of course, we should never forget that these were real people. Not icons. Not statements. With friends, loved ones, family. (Historian Iris Chang only died in 2004).

And also these things have a habit of percolating throughout society. Six thousand people take their own lives each year in the UK and many more are driven to attempt to kill themselves. Many are impressionable young women. For some, the myth of the glamorous suicide (check out Elise Cowan's death – the Beat poet leaped from her parents' high rise apartment, with not a drop of blood on the pavement, just a beautiful, fashionably dressed corpse) is potent.

For some troubled minds, it might seem the ultimate 'statement'. But who cares? Just look at how alluring it all is ...

Belfast Telegraph


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